Well worth the read. Don't have much to say about it, but a lot to mull over. And I definitely appreciate both Putnam and the article's acknowledgement of the need to balance objective research with civic engagement.
In documenting that hunkering down, Putnam challenged the two dominant schools of thought on ethnic and racial diversity, the "contact" theory and the "conflict" theory. Under the contact theory, more time spent with those of other backgrounds leads to greater understanding and harmony between groups. Under the conflict theory, that proximity produces tension and discord.
Putnam's findings reject both theories. In more diverse communities, he says, there were neither great bonds formed across group lines nor heightened ethnic tensions, but a general civic malaise. And in perhaps the most surprising result of all, levels of trust were not only lower between groups in more diverse settings, but even among members of the same group.
"Diversity, at least in the short run," he writes, "seems to bring out the turtle in all of us."
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
The Turtle Theory of Diversity
Excellent article about a new study from Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone, challenging much of the conventional wisdom regarding how diversity functions in communities. Excerpt: